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Zen and the Art of RC Helicopter Flying

Posted 03-10-2008 at 02:51 PM by Tioli

A noted sociologist, Anthony Campolo, used to ask his students "how long have you been alive?" They'd answer the usual "21 years," or whatever. When he pressed them, "how long have you been ALIVE?" they'd finally get it, and answer, "oh about 20 seconds or so..." He meant, of course, how long have you really been present in the moment--not thinking about what comes next, or what happened before, or what you're thinking, or what you're feeling, or what music is in your ears, or in your head. Just present in the moment.

Athletes call that being in the zone. Meditators call it transcendence, among other things. Others have called it caught up in the spirit, or use words such as "I just lost all track of time." RC helicopter flying does that for me. It is so intense (think of balancing a marble on a bowling ball, in the wind, without using your hands, and with your perspective constantly changing) that I block out everything except the heli and what it's doing up there. That's my meditation. The reason people meditate is to be present in the moment, to just breathe. That's me and RC. My mind doesn't wander, I don't feel anything in particular, I'm just in a zone. It's a very Zen moment when I'm flying.

It's maybe a little unusual that the thing that has connected me the most spiritually is building and flying what amounts to toys. But whatever. The rituals we do at church aren't any less silly, just more familiar and acceptable. For me, the rituals of church, are far less life affirming, and meditative than RC flying.

There are a couple other ways I get in the zone: rock balancing, and cycling, and guitar playing, but that's another blog.
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  1. Old Comment
    int2str's Avatar
    Nice posts (this and the scale model one) and nice pictures!
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    Posted 03-10-2008 at 04:08 PM by int2str int2str is offline
 




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